Escape from Italy: the brains that leave and don’t come back
Brain drain: this is not the only problem facing the Italian economy, but it accounts for 1% of GDP and, based on forecasts made by the former Minister of Economy Tria, involves a loss of resources amounting to 14 billion euros. According to the former Minister, workers abandon the Belpaese because it is not able to offer opportunities in terms of professional fulfilment, nor future scenarios concerning developments such as digital transformation.
Not just brains though. The phenomenon does not only concern graduates, but extends to those with diplomas or those who have no educational qualifications beyond secondary school. If the number of graduates leaving was 28,000 in 2017 compared to 33,000 with diplomas, total emigration in 2017 according to ISTAT (the Italian National Statistics Institute) data amounted to 285,000 units: people who left with the idea of not returning. These numbers are very close to the values of the post-second world war period and haveset alarm bells ringing among analysts.
Reclaiming the human resources scattered around the EU or the United States is a puzzle for legislators, but none of the measures implemented so far have had the desired results. In particular, the tax deduction of 70%, extendable up to 90% for a period of almost 13 years in particular cases – such as children or the purchase of a house – does not seem to influence those workers that often find themselves economically well-placed, being from the middle or upper-middle classes. Furthermore, this measure penalizes those who remain, not by choice but because they do not have the means to go elsewhere.
The departure of intellectuals and researchers would be less painful and of less account if countered by a substantial balancing in terms of arrivals, but this is not the case. In fact, only 4% of foreign students choose to live and study in Italy and, compared to an increase in the presence of foreign students, there is no real increase in teachers coming from abroad.
To limit the departure of workers and graduates in particular, some initiatives are aimed at turning back those who leave. This is the idea behind the Masters financed with 15 million euros which aim to select 1266 young people for a study project beyond the border and their subsequent return to Italy. “I’ll be right back” is the project on which Zingaretti and the committee of the Lazio Region are betting.